It’s hard to imagine David Parker, founder and de facto leader of the Take Back Alberta political action committee, was very happy to hear Opposition Leader Rachel Notley signal clearly last week that the NDP considers his group a legitimate target in the election campaign already unofficially under way. 

Take Back Alberta founder David Parker (Photo:

In Grande Prairie to speak with supporters and media, Ms. Notley called on Premier Danielle Smith to make it clear just how much she agrees with views of radical preacher Artur Pawlowski and “the very extremist views advanced by her key support group, Take Back Alberta.”

Mr. Parker, who has been called “the power behind the throne” on which Ms. Smith now sits uneasily, has bragged about forcing former UCP premier Jason Kenney out of his job. 

TBA, as the far-right group registered with Elections Alberta as a third-party advertiser has come to be commonly called, is actively seeking to dominate UCP constituency associations throughout the province. 

It now controls half the UCP’s governing board positions and is bound to try to seize control of the remaining nine board seats when it gets the chance. 

“Albertans deserve to know whether they are on the verge of selecting a premier whose views are deeply extreme and offside with the opinions of the vast majority of Albertans,” Ms. Notley said during the news conference, in response to a question from Dean Bennett of the Canadian Press.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Alberta Newsroom Flickr).

“She has to stop slipping and sliding and ducking and diving and changing her story every day,” the NDP Leader and former Alberta premier continued. “Albertans deserve better from someone who is seeking to lead the province. 

“A number of the view espoused by Art Pawlowski as well as many of the folks within Take Back Alberta, who support him, who were critical to Danielle Smith becoming leader of the UCP, are very concerning.”

Ms. Notley asked: Which of their extremist views are not acceptable to her, and which ones are? “She needs to speak openly … in very clear detail.”

Referring to the investigation launched April 10 by Alberta Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler into whether the premier interfered with the administration of justice, Ms. Notley added: “I would also like to make the point that it is unprecedented, really, that you’ve got a candidate for premier going into an election who is under the cloud of an ethics investigation, the outcome of which we very possibly will not see until after the election.”

After a couple of stories last month about TBA’s efforts to take over UCP constituency associations, media interest appeared to wane, no doubt to the relief of Mr. Parker, who has described himself as a sort of “black belt” expert on how political parties run.

Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Asked for a response to Ms. Notley’s comment by the Canadian Press, he said: “Power behind the throne? I’m not sure what that means.”

“Does it mean that we are puppet masters? Absolutely not,” Mr. Parker insisted. “I’m part of a third-party advertiser. I can’t even show up and door knock for a party.”

But Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt, who first described Mr. Parker as the power behind the premier’s metaphorical throne, told CP, “the great insight of David Parker was to take over a party from within.”

In a Postmedia op-ed published on March 4, Dr. Bratt and Sarah Biggs of Olsen-Biggs Public Affairs warned that “a Take Back Alberta government” would mean a full-blown assault on public education, including attempts to take over local school boards by TBA cadres, and legislation to weaken public health measures.

We could also expect a TBA government to make good on Ms. Smith’s advocacy of an Alberta-autonomy agenda, they wrote – “creating Alberta provincial police to replace RCMP, Alberta tax collection agency to replace Revenue Canada, and an Alberta pension plan by pulling out of the Canada Pension Plan.” Eventually, we might also see “a referendum on Alberta’s separation from Canada.”

“This is not hyperbole or fearmongering,” they warned. “These are all statements coming from Take Back Alberta.”

Crowsnest Pass Herald Publisher and municipal councillor Lisa Sygutek (Photo: Linked-In).

In a March 15 column in the southwestern Alberta community newspaper she owns, Crowsnest Pass Herald Publisher and municipal councillor Lisa Sygutek described the takeover of her UCP constituency association by TBA. 

“I believe in the party, well, the party I used to know and understand, and I must tell you I don’t understand this party anymore,” the lifelong Conservative wrote. The “takeover by the ‘Take Back Alberta’ faction,” she wrote, was “bizarre. There was honestly a sense of extreme hostility in the room. It felt like a coup.”

Before Ms. Notley’s April 13 news conference in Grande Prairie with the NDP’s Peace River candidate, Liana Paiva, the Opposition leader hammered the credibility of Ms. Smith’s claimed Damascene conversion to the benefits of public health care on the eve of an election in which voters are known to be worried about the face of the health care system. 

“Jason Kenney also pledged to support public health care with a cardboard platform,” she said. “And then six months into office, he started talking about firing nurses, delisting health care services, and then, of course, they ripped up the deal with doctors.

“All of those changes spurred widespread chaos. And the government actually never even let up on that, even as a global pandemic imposed unprecedented pressure on hospitals and front-line health care providers.  

“Flash forward four years and there’s Danielle Smith trotting out the same old tired guarantee. But this time we know better. Not only do we have the UCP’s record to look at, we also have Danielle Smith’s own words to hold her accountable. 

“Less than two years ago, she openly advocated repeatedly for forcing Albertans to pay out of pocket to visit their doctor and to pay a deductible should they need surgery in the hospital.”

“Albertans know that’s just wrong,” Ms. Notley said. “So I ask them to consider who it is they can trust to provide better public health care free of charge. My record and my position hasn’t changed in the last two years. It hasn’t changed, actually, in the last two decades.”

Realtor accused of anti-Semitic statements quits Premier Smith’s multiculturalism council

Meanwhile, Calgary-area realtor and former UCP nomination candidate Tariq Khan resigned today from the newly announced Premier’s Council on Multiculturalism after the NDP pointed to what it called “a documented history of anti-Semitism.” Mr. Khan was named to the council by Premier Smith on Friday. 

Former UCP nomination candidate Tariq Khan (Photo: The Canadian Jewish News).

In 2019, when Mr. Khan sought the UCP nomination in a Calgary riding, the UCP’s executive director at that time referenced the controversial posts in a letter to him rejecting his candidacy. 

“A review of your social media history has revealed a number of highly disturbing posts,” Janice Harrington wrote. “While I recognize that people can have a legitimate political debate on the practices of the Israeli government, these posts go clearly well beyond that and delve into anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. …”

“The Nominations Committee has determined that you are ineligible to stand for a UCP nomination contest,” she concluded.

In a statement, NDP Multiculturalism Critic Jasvir Deol said the premier “must immediately remove Khan from her council and explain why she appointed someone with this documented history of anti-Semitism and extremist views.”

Asked about Mr. Khan at a news conference yesterday, Deputy Premier Kaycee Madu told reporters that “this was brought to my attention this morning and my sense is that we will take action to deal with that particular issue.” 

The Premier’s Office said later that Mr. Khan had offered his resignation and Ms. Smith had accepted it.

Interestingly, during the press conference Mr. Madu allowed follow-up questions by reporters, so apparently the one-question rule decreed Friday and Saturday by Premier Smith applies only to her answers. 

Join the Conversation


  1. Good Gord. “Mr. Madu allowed follow-up questions by reporters” … while Smith does not!
    And its not like the UCP haven’t heard Madu’s blather before.

    Me thinks the UCP may have just lost the election

    1. Have to agree … Smith has lost the narrative and has nothing new to offer From an outside observation she and her clowns are desperate as more and more is being exposed, included the TBA crowd!

    2. Same here, and thank God for that. As a trans person, I am genuinely terrified of the premier, and her wish-washyness is really (to quote Henshaw) “concerning.” And I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  2. The UCP are going off the deep end, and they can’t swim. I just can’t support these pseudo conservatives and Reformers, because I know they are up to no good. They don’t creat jobs, they only destroy them, they cheat us out of our oil and tax wealth, they harm the services we all depend on, so they can make way to privatize them, and they blame other people for what is going wrong.

  3. ” … a premier whose views are deeply extreme and offside with the opinions of the vast majority of Albertans,” Ms. Notley said”

    I think our venerable past Premier is missing a few qualifiers in that statement. As it stands it’s just wishful thinking.
    She might want to qualify the Albertans who are offside with those opinions. Perhaps ‘thinking’ Albertans or ‘educated’ Albertans or even just ‘normally well-adjusted’ Albertans.

    Because there is little doubt that the “vast majority” of Albertans are squarely and enthusiastically supportive of TBA policy and the idiotic Premier of UCP.

    1. I’m going to push back on this.

      There has been a lot of gaslighting of rural Albertans as idiots in the comments of this blog, and I find it reprehensible.
      Ms. Notley and I hail from within 30 km of each other, and Jordan Peterson does too. The rural diaspora is complicated, 1 and 2, some thing folks never consider is urban folks moving rural. Alberta has never been a 1 to 1 and it is not now to an EXTREME. If anything stop slurring rural albertans because I fucking am one and it makes me very angry you all think you’re smarter than me and the folks of my community by virtue of where you were BORN. Grow up. Politics is a complicated business and if you can’t keep up maybe be less engaged.

      Sorry I said the F word David but this garbage has to stop. You’re not better than rural voters, knock it off already. I am LITERALLY DISGSTED BY THIS JUVENILE BS.

      1. Bird:
        I understand what you’re saying, but you’re responding to the wrong crowd. The conservative governments of our past, the NDP and the UCP, have cultivated the conflict between urban and rural for at least 50 years. There is a bias in our allocation of seats in the legislature towards the rural that has been maintained and even fostered during this time.

        As angry and frustrated as you are about being labelled “idiots”, the urban voters are frustrated that no matter how many people need attention paid to urban problems that rural issues seem to take precedence. I’m not sure that Alberta politicians are loathe to address urban issues, but the cultivating of competition between rural and urban is common to all the provinces. In reality, provincial governments, like their federal counterparts, respond mostly to business and commercial interests and place a very low priority on urban or rural problems.

        Your anger and “our” anger helps to keep us divided when there’s no reason to be. Urban people need to eat and use resources gathered by rural people, who need a demand for their labours from the urban people. This is very simplistic, of course, but urban and rural are designations that often overlap and there’s no reason a provincial government can’t legislate for all its citizens without pitting us against each other, but it does help in getting elected.

        The urban voters have demonstrated their ability to vote against their own interests and to respond to rage farming every bit as much as rural voters.

        We’re all idiots…

  4. Excellent analysis by David
    Thanks to Rachel for pointing out how the UCP has been taken over by the TBA extremists. Peter Lougheed would be horrified by TBA- Smith loves them.

  5. Good questions about who is really running the UCP. The TBA group seems very organized and extreme. It seems to have now gotten its tentacles into many important parts of the UCP, so as to allow them a great deal of influence, if not control. What ever moderate voices still exist in the party would not seem to have much say any more and TBA seems to trying to get rid of any one that has a different view.

    Although they seem to be on much the same wave length as Smith, so I’m not sure it matters too much who the real power is. Of course Smith is occasionally exposed to a wider range of voices, which she doesn’t seem inclined to listen to much. Perhaps pressure from TBA partly explains this.

    The Khan situation must be embarrassing for the UCP which is trying to portray an image of competence. How they could think some unsuitable to be a candidate because of what they said would be an appropriate appointment here does not make any sense, other than someone missed this or didn’t think it mattered. Well at least Mr. Madu is taking more than one question. Maybe that is a limitation reserved only for the higher ups.

  6. And on and on… Again the UCP claims another NDP inspired policy by banning any further auto insurance premium increases for the rest of this year. You may have noticed that this comes after your auto insurance premium has already increased for this year. And there is always next year for an increase outside the timeline of a ban now in effect! What silliness – closest I could come to being polite!

  7. About Parker. “Power behind the throne? I’m not sure what that means.” Seems he has a problem with the truth, like Smith, he lies. I doubt very much the inside takeover was his original idea. I ask myself: How can a semi-educated, politically indoctrinated (first in politics at 14) from the wastelands of Southern Alberta become a Canadian Director of the Ditcheley Foundation?

  8. Targeting and increasing exposure to TBA is a wise strategy by the NDP. Keep hammering that message.

    1. I agree. It needs to be broadcast loudly, continually, and in all possible forums between now and the election.

      I live in a deeply conservative rural riding – the messaging only gets slowly through and is forgotten quickly. If I were an NDP communications advisor, I would say to link TBA with UCP nonstop. I would come up with a catchy slogan and use it in commercials and on bill boards everywhere (UCP/TBA coalition type thing). Twitter & social media tends to reach supporters, and this isn’t who the NDP needs to convince to vote for them. Reach the rural voter who may traditionally have voted conservative but who is spooked by Smith, her crazy ideas, anti-vaxxer freedumb, and TBA.

  9. Hello seniors in Alberta.
    If you want to lose your Canada Pension Plan. If you want the RCMP replaced with a provincial Gestapo. If you want to go bankrupt paying for medical bills. You should vote for the UCP.

    1. Exactly! NDP should repeat and connect that with the UCP a million times a day between now and the election.

  10. I think I’ve heard that line before somewhere. Oh, here it is:

    “Does it mean that I am a puppet master?” said the Wizard of Oz, as he pulled the levers behind the curtains. “Absolutely not. These are marionettes, not puppets. Don’t you know anything?”

  11. How does an uneducated Christo-fascist become both a “political black belt” and manage to effectively take over a ruling party? I’ll bet the answer would appear by following the money trail. There is very little doubt that dark American money/interests are the true puppet masters of Alberta now.

    Perhaps Notley should use a chunk of that fundraised money to privately investigate TBA? I’d love to see all their dirty laundry finally aired out for all to see. Alas, that is probably the most positive thought/fantasy I can conjure up during this so-called election cycle.

  12. The issue is straightforward.

    When voters place their X on the ballot beside a UCP candidate who are they voting for? For the UCP candidate or for the TBA team. Or is it really one in the same?

    Not a healthy place for Alberta voters to be.

    TBA orchestrated the departure of Jason Kenney as Leader.

    No doubt Danielle Smith is ACUTELY aware that the TBA could do the same to her if she goes against their wishes. This could be the reason for so many mis steps and flip flops. Which master does she serve? The voters or the TBA group? The answer to this is less than clear.

  13. Smith limited the amount of questions. Notley censured the type of questions and had those that did not comply forcefully removed. Just saying.

    1. I believe Bexte has been basically kicked off every major platform for his disgusting bigoted antics, from where I’m sitting it was the right call then and it was the right call now, but she is more gracious than I am and reversed the policy almost immediately. The Rebel is not a news organization, the folks that work there are not journalists, it was a calculated political attack, poorly carried out, because they are hacks.

  14. TBA‘s website is lacking in specifics, and I’ve enjoyed some speculation in that regard, so I was really interested to read this:

    Parker was pissed at Kenney because he dared enact public health mandates on preachers. Because they were preachers. Not like all the other people whose livelihoods were impacted by COVID gathering restrictions. This, he took personally. The boy is touched, as they say.

    From a Calgary TBA “regional captain:”
    “I’ve come to realize that God celebrates that there’s nations in the world. And that’s a beautiful thing. The globalists have an opposite view. They’re going to eliminate nationhood and turn it into this grand scheme of a global government.”

    Christian nationalism with a smack of anti-globalist conspiracy thrown in. It’s been awesome for the US, so why not here?

    I only see a couple of clear conservatives that respond to this thread, but if you’re reading: is this who you want choosing your candidates in ridings the UCP has a lock on?

  15. Also I will say I feel like this is a better strategy. Hit these folks where they live, daily. Albertans do not think like the UCP does; remind them.

  16. Today, the UCP posted an address by Stephen Harper and claimed it was an endorsement of Danielle Smith. The problem is that Harpo, during his brief statement, mentioned only “conservative” but never mentioned UCP or Danielle Smith. It’s kind of weird, praising an endorsement of yourself that doesn’t really endorse anything.

    Are they sure they really want this election? Maybe repealing the Fixed Election is coming?

  17. Dippers had their chance. Most of the time Dippers are either laughing and smiling or hurling toxic fear mongering. Yes we see enough of their negative attack googleads, Enough is enough. With no plan for true innovation, four years they scared away all the capital out of Alberta and only plan to inflate the economy is tax the middle class and business class more to build an economy. From their own mouths, out of ideas their only plan is is to hire more union hacks, defund cops while the fentanyl problem is out of control and promote drag shows in schools. Calgary is going to be THE battle ground. I’m voting Liberal, just don’t trust the two Leaders on the loonie left and extreme right.

    On other thoughts, maybe you should run Dave, No??. You have sat on the sidelines long enough. Get off your chair man.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.